2 Kings 6:24-7:2 – We Are About The Ministry of Reconciliation

Posted: May 16, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 6:24-7:2

The Arameans Besiege Samaria

In about a month and a half from now, I will become the pastor of a small church in Lamar, SC, about 90 miles inland from Myrtle Beach, SC. As my time here at my church in The Quad Cities of Illinois/Iowa draws to a close, there is sadness about leaving so many meaningful relationships behind. We have made so many good friends here in just a relatively short period of time (a year and a half). And there are a few of these relationships that we will leave behind that will tear holes in our hearts (specifically, the couples in our small group).

As my time here draws to a close, there is excitement about the fact that the exact thing that God has been calling me to do (to be the pastor who preaches, teaches, counsels, leads, inspires, etc.) is now coming to fruition after years of training and waiting. Between all the leadership roles that we played at LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC and in my full-time role here at Calvary Church, there has been eight years leading up to next month’s moment.

As my time here draws to a close, there is also a fear of all the things that can go wrong in ministry as I await my new assignment. I will be the pastor, the only pastor, the guy. No one to pass things off to anymore. No subjects that I can easily avoid by saying that this area of discussion I must defer to my senior pastor. Every decision, every public statement, will be scrutinized. There will be someone who will not like my decision with every decision. As with any leadership role, there is always going to be someone dissatisfied with a decision that is made. It is further complicated when you are a pastor.

I have heard stories before from other pastors including my dad and my brother among church members getting angry at a pastor for being truly honest with a person in a counseling session – for their own good. I have heard stories of people being difficult to deal with at church because church is the only place they feel like they have influence. I have heard all the horror stories of church relationships going sideways and the pastor being the blame for it. All of it is kind of scary when you think about it. I mean it’s not like it is an isolated thing. Every pastor I have every known has had experiences where they have become the lightning rod for people’s anger and hurt. The thing we must remember as pastors is that we cannot take it personally and we must keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. My friend and fellow pastor here at Calvary, Jeff Duncan, repeats a phrase quite often in meetings. He says, “we must be about the ministry of reconciliation.” We unpack that a little more after we read through today’s passage.

That’s what I thought about this morning as I read 2 Kings 6:24-7:2. I noticed how Elisha did not seem to take the king’s comments personally. He kept his eyes on what God was doing by the way he responded to the king. Let’s read the passage now:

24 Some time later, however, King Ben-hadad of Aram mustered his entire army and besieged Samaria. 25 As a result, there was a great famine in the city. The siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty pieces of silver, and a cup of dove’s dung sold for five pieces[a] of silver.

26 One day as the king of Israel was walking along the wall of the city, a woman called to him, “Please help me, my lord the king!”

27 He answered, “If the Lord doesn’t help you, what can I do? I have neither food from the threshing floor nor wine from the press to give you.” 28 But then the king asked, “What is the matter?”

She replied, “This woman said to me: ‘Come on, let’s eat your son today, then we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. Then the next day I said to her, ‘Kill your son so we can eat him,’ but she has hidden her son.”

30 When the king heard this, he tore his clothes in despair. And as the king walked along the wall, the people could see that he was wearing burlap under his robe next to his skin. 31 “May God strike me and even kill me if I don’t separate Elisha’s head from his shoulders this very day,” the king vowed.

32 Elisha was sitting in his house with the elders of Israel when the king sent a messenger to summon him. But before the messenger arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “A murderer has sent a man to cut off my head. When he arrives, shut the door and keep him out. We will soon hear his master’s steps following him.”

33 While Elisha was still saying this, the messenger arrived. And the king[b] said, “All this misery is from the Lord! Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”

7 Elisha replied, “Listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord says: By this time tomorrow in the markets of Samaria, six quarts of choice flour will cost only one piece of silver,[c] and twelve quarts of barley grain will cost only one piece of silver.[d]”

2 The officer assisting the king said to the man of God, “That couldn’t happen even if the Lord opened the windows of heaven!”

But Elisha replied, “You will see it happen with your own eyes, but you won’t be able to eat any of it!”

In this passage, we must ask the question, “Why did the king blame Elijah for the famine and the troubles of the siege? Some possible reasons may include:

  1. Some commentators say that Elisha must have told the king to trust God for deliverance. But after hearing of the woman’s troubles, the situation just seemed terribly hopeless. The king may have thought that Elisha had given him bad advice and not even God could or would help them. Or….
  • For years the kings of Israel and the prophets of God had been at odds with one another. The prophets often predicted gloom and doom because of the evil of the kings of Israel. Thus, the kings often saw the prophets as troublemakers. With this frame of mind, the king may have been striking out at Elisha in frustration. Or….
  • The king may have remembered when Elijah, Elisha’s mentor, helped bring an end to famine (see 1 Kings 18:41-46). Knowing Elisha was a man of God, perhaps the king thought he could do any miracle he wanted and the king was angry that Elisha wasn’t coming to Israel’s rescue.

Regardless of which these possibilities, gleaned from various commentaries on this passage, that you choose to believe, we see in each one that the “pastor” here, the prophet Elisha, is the one that is the recipient of the anger. That is often the case in church. It goes with the territory. We are the visible real, live human beings holding ourselves out to be the representatives of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But that’s where being the representative of gospel and the fact that pastors are actual real, live human beings too crash together in conflict with one another. Yes, we are pastors. But at the same time, yes, we are humans. Yes, it would be so easy for us to default to our own human nature and respond to anger with anger, frustration with frustration. And sometimes, we actually do make the mistake of responding in kind to the anger or frustration that is being heaped upon us directly.

However, as Pastor Jeff often says, “we are to be about the ministry of reconciliation.” What Pastor Jeff means by that is that we cannot take people’s anger and frustration as a personal attack. There is something going on in their lives that causes them to respond the way they do. That’s what we need to get at – not this moment of anger. We must measure our responses by what impact our words as pastors will have on (1) this person coming to know Jesus Christ as their Savior or (2) deepening their relationship with Jesus Christ if they are already saved. Jeff’s words thus are profound. Thinking about how my response is going to reconcile someone to God changes everything in how we typically respond to aggression, anger, and frustration. How will my words impact this person’s walk? Will my words responded in tit for tat anger cause someone to get off trail in their walk with Jesus? Will my words cause them to not accept Jesus as their Savior? We must measure our responses by what will lead this person to a deeper knowledge and relationship with Jesus.

This is true, especially for pastors, but it also true for all Christ followers. Measure our responses. Keep our eyes on Jesus in how we respond. We are about the ministry of reconciliation.

Amen and Amen.

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